Reuters Slashes Climate Coverage, Pressures Reporters To Include False Balance


The story of how and why Reuters is eviscerating its once-excellent climate coverage is coming into sharper focus thanks to reporting by Columbia Journalism Review and Media Matters.

Two weeks ago Climate Progress reported that a former Reuters climate change correspondent, David Fogarty, charged the publication was openly hostile to climate coverage, particularly since the hiring of editor Paul Ingrassia. Analysis by Media Matters supports that charge:

Reuters’ coverage of climate change declined by nearly 50 percent under the regime of the current managing editor, lending credence to a former reporter’s claim that a “climate of fear” has gripped the agency.

Last week we reported on some “absurd” false balance, in which a leading climatologist slammed the news agency for using “unrelated climate skeptics nonsense” in a Reuters article on sea level rise. At the time, we pointed out that if this false balance had been part of the reporter’s original reporting, you would have expected direct quotes from actual skeptics. The fact that the blather was all inserted without attribution suggests it was added at the insistence of an editor.

That conclusion is supported by a must-read piece in the Columbia Journalism Review, which reports:

But rumblings in the Reuters newsroom signal that the most recent dip in climate coverage is accompanied by a shift in editorial angle. I spoke on background to several journalists working at Reuters, who said that since Ingrassia was hired, they’ve felt pressure from management to add “balance” to climate change stories by including the views of global-warming skeptics. “I’m really glad someone outside the company is looking into this,” said one staffer who did not wish to be identified. “I think this is the most worrying thing any of us have seen here.”

The bottom line is Reuters now has far fewer climate stories — and the ones they do publish are less informative. As Woody Allen’s character says in Annie Hall:

There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.”

Fortunately here at Climate Progress the food is still tasty — and we just increased the size of the portions!